Essays on the Quest (Paperback) 1985
This book is really part of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton; it is a collection of essays (as the title suggests) taken from the unpublished writings of PB and published posthumously. There are fourteen titles in all in this book. They are as follows: “The Mystery of Evil,” “The Adventure of Mentalism,” “Karma, The Law of Consequences,” “Is the Soul in the Heart?” “The Interior Word,” “Self-reliance or Discipleship?” “Is the World an Illusion?” “Ascetic Mysticism Reconsidered,” “Insight,” “Self-Reliance or Discipleship?” “Cleansing of the Emotions,” “Ethical Qualifications of the Seeker,” “Surrender of the Ego,” “The Probations and Tests of the Aspirant,” and “What Can We Do for Philosophy?” In large part, these titles reflect the themes and issues with which PB concerned himself in his retirement years—at least so far as the challenges for the quester are concerned.
While many of these topics are quite familiar to spiritual seekers, the reader will often find that PB’s viewpoint sheds new light—or rather, provides a new perspective—on this material. One often has the experience of reading along, treading the well-worn paths of spiritual disciplinary texts, and then ‘turning a corner’ to discover a new, fresh, rejuvenating (if sometimes a bit uncomfortable) insight into the topic in hand. The PBPF recommends that one read straight through this text; while our egos will assure us that there is material we have no further need to consider, and other contents that seem perhaps remote from our present capacity, it is not our ego but our soul, our Overself, that will illumine the passages most relevant to our real growth and transformation.
Perhaps the most remarkable essays is the last one, “What Can We Do for Philosophy.” While all of these essays are inspiring, (especially the ones on Insight and the Interior Word), this final essay asks a startling question in its title. Here PB makes the point that while spiritual philosophy is a—no, the—essential resource for our times, most of humankind is far from ready to receive it. A lot of preparatory and introductory work is needed—work that can and must be part of each quester’s own practice, alongside one’s own studies, meditations, and refinement. While Philosophy itself has no need of assistance, those unaware of its presence, much less its benefits do—and one of the best ways to study is to teach. After all, this is the path PB himself pursued in the first part of his life, and look at what it did for him!
Paul Brunton: A Personal View by Kenneth Thurston Hurst 1989
Kenneth Hurst is PB’s only son, and this work is a mixture of an autobiography and biography of PB. As Kenneth rightly says, it is impossible for anyone to write a real biography of a sage, since he is enlightened and we are not. So Kenneth simply opts to share his own very personal experiences of growing up with PB throughout their many years together as father and son. Even though Kenneth’s mother remarried when he was only six years old, PB was very much in his life throughout his childhood; in fact, when Kenneth was ten, PB enlisted his ‘help’ in choosing the photographs for A Search in Secret India.
Reading this book, we are given access to the personal life of PB. Kenneth quite openly shares their correspondence, conversations, and interactions with each other over the course of PB’s lifetime. There are gaps in the narrative, as PB sometimes was unavailable to the world, which included Kenneth, as was the case during World War II when PB was ‘stuck’ in India, and Kenneth was still in England. In fact, they next met in America, where Kenneth emigrated after the war and eventually became a citizen. Thereafter PB visited him whenever he was stateside, and sometimes they traveled together in Europe or Asia, where they met with various students of PB’s and other serious spiritual seekers. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this biography is what is not in it—whatever difficulties PB may have had with various students (or even governments) is little mentioned here. This is consistent with Kenneth’s own lifelong commitment to the power of positive (and negative) thought. By the time he wrote this, it was natural for him to take this approach, and, as his tells us in the title, this is his view of PB; others will tell their stories from their viewpoints, which will in turn cast new light upon this remarkable man.
Throughout his life Kenneth was a serious student of his father’s work, so much so that he was instrumental in the formation of the Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation after PB’s death. After recounting this phase of his life, Kenneth tells us of what would turn out to be his own final interview with His Holiness Sri Shankaracarya—fifty years after PB’s first interview with Him in 1935. Kenneth completes this book by sharing some of the dreams he had after PB died and a brief afterword.
This is a unique book. Through Kenneth we are given a glimpse of a sage’s journey over the greater measure of his life, and we are left with a desire to know more of PB and his ideas, to seek within ourselves for our own Overself, and to commence—or continue—our journey home.
Paul Brunton: Essential Readings (Joscelyn Godwin, Paul Cash & Timothy Smith ed.) 1990
In an effort to bridge the gap between the early writings of PB and the material published in the Notebooks, this volume offers excerpts from both periods of PB’s life. Part One consists of selections from A Search in Secret Egypt (PB’s night in the Great Pyramid); A Search in Secret India (PB’s interviews with Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sri Shankaracarya); a section from The Quest of the Overself on the Overself in Action; a reflection on the mission of Jesus from The Inner Reality (renamed Discover Yourself); and perhaps the most remarkable of all, the chapter titled "The Birth of the Universe" from The Wisdom of the Overself.
Part Two contains seven topics taken from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton. They are "The Quest," "The Teacher," "From Mysticism to Philosophy," "The Overself," "Grace and the Short Path," "World-Mind and Mind," and "The Sage." While these latter selections point towards the greater body of work that is the Notebooks, they were specifically chosen to compliment the ideas presented in Part One. Thus we have the Interviews with Ramana Maharshi and Shankaracarya in Part One, which are complimented by the sections on "The Teacher" and "The Sage" in Part Two. Similarly the selection from The Quest of the Overself is developed in the chapter “The Overself” in Part Two.
This book is often overlooked in the pantheon of PB’s published works, which is a shame, because it is very helpful in highlighting the central themes of PB’s writings and teachings. For those unfamiliar with his terms—such as Overself, Mind, and World-Mind—this book is a helpful introduction. For those seeking a way into PB’s vast literature, reading through this modest-sized (210-page) book will offer adequate samples of the major works of PB, so that one can then choose easily what to read, and even in what order. Finally, for those who are quite familiar with PB’s writings and views, this book makes an excellent traveling companion, as there are many profound ideas worthy of frequent review, as well as many inspired passages that are simply a joy to read and reread as our own development allows us to see—and even experience—them in a new light.
Inspired Wisdom in Practice: Quotations from Paul Brunton ~ Arthur Broekhuysen (ed.) 1992
Meditations for People in Charge 1995
A compilation of PB paras from The Notebooks, this handbook is for those people who touch lives and influence minds. PB addresses the question of what it means to be “in charge.” He writes about where to turn for guidance, and he provides inspirational ideas that will carry one through the hardest of times.
This small book is designed to inspire, counsel, and console those who aspire to remain in touch with spiritual strength and personal integrity while facing difficult decisions and daily dilemmas. It is full of accessible and inspiring wisdom, applying spiritual ideas directly to practical issues of life.
Meditations for People in Crisis 1996
A compilation of PB paras from The Notebooks, this book is for those facing crisis of any kind—from personal confusion and inner conflict to illness and death. It also addresses the greater crisis in which we all live: the troubled state of the world. Condensed from several volumes of material, the pages of this little book provide the reader with insight into the causes of our woes and show the way toward either addressing them or accepting them when they cannot be changed.
For those who have read The Notebooks, this text provides a refresher course in the salient points; for those new to PB’s writings, it is an excellent starting point, especially if they are indeed in crisis. PB’s key ideas can and will guide readers to draw on their own inner resources, which are, in the end, the greatest resources and the most powerful tools we have to engage ourselves with all the colors of life.
What is Karma? 1998
This little book presents, in condensed and concentrated form, what PB learned about karma from a long and richly varied lifetime of personal research, relentless trial and error, and intimate association with wise men and women from sacred traditions throughout the world. These pithy gems are drawn from a broad span of his writing, ranging from as early as the mid 1940s to shortly before his death in 1981. They concisely present the essence and many of the details of the teachings of karma as they appear throughout the world's wisdom traditions.
PB says that people who stand for freewill are partly right, and so are those who stand for predetermination; each has something to hear from the other side. Life is a highly ordered structure of opportunities, some material and others spiritual. We have no control over the order in which they appear or the time at which they appear, but they are presented to a soul that is free at every moment to choose or refuse the opportunity. Each choice has consequences, and life never presents exactly the same opportunity again.
A key element of these teachings is that the best way to appeal against the principle of karma isn't through prayer but through changing our thoughts. The more we alter the general trend of our thinking for the better, the better our outer life will ultimately become. The choices we make today alter or confirm the direction our life will ultimately go. Karma, far from imprisoning us, actually guarantees our freedom to determine much of what that will be.
PB also addresses those terrible moments in life when you've dug a hole so deep it seems you'll never get out, when things are so bad it seems there's no turning them around. In such situations, the inevitable companion to karma arises: grace. The power of grace and its relationship to karma forms the central chapter of this book—a chapter that will become well-thumbed over time. In sum, this book is not one of doom and gloom, but of empowerment, rescue, and resurrection of our selves, our lives, and our best hopes for the future.
The Gift of Grace: Awakening to Its Presence 2011
Hope shines brightly in this selection of gems from Paul Brunton's writings on Grace. Once we penetrate this deep teaching, Grace, with its assurance of growing goodness and light, becomes a certainty. Based on thorough study, scientific inquiry, intuition, and inner penetration, PB establishes extraordinary revelations about the infinite reality and divine intelligence that supports, guides and inspires this life. Grace is a beacon of light that never allows us to go irrevocably astray as we run, walk, or crawl our karmic and evolutionary paths. This small volume presents a taste of PB's profound work on this subject.
A Search in Secret India 1934
This is PB’s most famous and often-read book. It is indeed a search in India and holds the secret of spiritual seeking for those who would read it carefully. The text is a modified account of PB’s earliest trips to India, combining his earliest impressions with his later reflections on his experiences there. PB describes himself here as a spiritual seeker trying to find a teacher and trying to decide if he wants or needs one. This search is the core of the book, motivating him to travel across the length and breadth of India interviewing known and unknown, named and unnamed yogis, fakirs, and gurus.
Among the individuals PB describes, two stand out: first the remarkable sage Ramana Maharshi, who was regarded by all who met him as an enlightened being and remained free of any controversy throughout his life. In these pages PB presents an inspiring account of the sage’s life and introduces us to his essential teachings as well. PB spent a great deal of time with Ramana and is credited with bringing this great Teacher to the attention of Western seekers. The other individual that PB met was Sri Shankaracarya; here he tells us something of the background and mission of His Holiness and provides us with a record of their earliest interview, which remains poignantly relevant to today’s seekers and today’s world.
Finally, the most important aspect of this book is its function as the archetypal blueprint of the quest for a spiritual teacher—be it in India, Ohio, or in one’s own heart. PB presents us with a compendium of all the problems and opportunities such a search must encounter. These include the issue of dealing with over-eager disciples who may be well-disguised messengers of truth or mere fanatics; the challenge of differentiating the public image of a popular guru from the truth—or falsity—of the man himself; the experience of opportunely meeting a genuine teacher, only to find that he or she is not one’s own teacher; and finally, there is the fundamental battle within oneself as to whether or not to accept a teacher, much less to do this whole spiritual quest thing in the first place! PB does not present us with pat answers, but he does provide us with ways to approach each of these facets of our search and methods that will leave our independence intact, our aspiration renewed, and our yearning deepened.
The Secret Path 1935
This is the first of the ten books that PB wrote written and published during his lifetime. In spite of its small size (125 pages), PB manages to cover a good deal of ground. He introduces us to his own mystical experiences and his awareness of the teachings and teachers of the East. Indeed, the book opens with an exquisite (and accurate) description of being in the presence of a sage. From this mystical opening, he comes quickly back to ‘this old world’ as he calls it—where he begins his presentation of the fundamental teachings and practices of the spiritual quest.
While this is a mystical, lyrical book, it is aimed at those of us limited by time and obligations from fully devoting ourselves to such topics. Thus his recommendations for meditation, relaxation, the development of intuition, and even awareness of our own higher self, are all couched in the context of ‘the rest of our lives.’ This book is the beginning of PB’s lifelong goal to provide direct, lucid, and viable practices for the active lifestyle of modern urban dwellers. He did not want to waste people’s time by requiring them to learn the outmoded vocabulary of ancient texts, preferring instead to transform the truths buried there into their essence, stripped of nomenclature and freed from unnecessary ritualistic access. (This is not to say that PB ignores the need for self-improvement and purification, merely that he suggests we are capable of such undertakings independent of antiquated tradition.)
Since its writing some seventy-five years ago, the pace of life has increased, and our opportunity for introspection has further diminished—and so this book has become more relevant, more useful over time, and its quiet, objective message is absolutely worth the time it takes to ponder over the message of its pages.
Listen to excerpts from The Secret Path read by Christopher Reeve.
A Search in Secret Egypt 1936 (Re-issued in 2007)
Brunton’s amazing narrative tells us of his deep meditations at the feet of the Sphinx, his eerie and illuminating night alone in the Great Pyramid, and his insight into the Osiris myth. Alongside his explorations of ancient Egypt’s monuments and gods, Brunton encounters a variety of occultists, and even manages to become initiated into the deadly art of snake charming! In order to clarify what the mind and body are capable of and to distinguish various forms of yoga and magic from true spirituality, Brunton searches out—and finds—a variety of hypnotists, magicians, mystics, and even a bona-fide snake charmer. While the reader will very likely be startled by some of the unusual (or conservative) elements of this book, Brunton himself was neither enamored of the occult, nor constrained by the academic; at the same time, he did not eschew the company of either. His main intent is to introduce us to the panorama of viewpoints that exist in Egypt and that swirl around the central mystery of the mind-body relationship.
His frank interview with the then head of Islam proves relevant today, and his descriptions of the Hajj remind us of the beauty and inspiring faith of Mohammed’s true followers.
In the end, Brunton turns his attention to his own spiritual journey, connecting all of his experiences into a single discovery: that we are more than the body and that the freedom of our spirit can be experienced here and now even as it has ever been. As he sifts through the myths and icons of that extraordinary time, he returns again and again to the myth of Osiris and to the mystery that is the Sphinx itself. The myth of Osiris teaches us that we are immortal, both now and in the hereafter, and that it is possible, albeit difficult, to directly experience this immortality for ourselves. And the mystery of the Sphinx is also Her wisdom—the mystery of eternal Truth realized.
A Message from Arunachala 1936
This book, written only two years after A Search in Secret India, shows several changes in PB’s writing, and is a “prequel” to The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, for here we discover his natural writing style—a style he called ‘paras,’ which are short paragraphs or sometimes a simple sentence containing a single point or intuition, written down as they came to him in the course of his daily life. Here he speaks for Mount Arunachala as well as for himself, even as so many other mystics have used the metaphor of a mountain to express something of their journey and their vision. That he has chosen this austere mountain long associated with yogic asceticism and more recently the famed home of Sri Ramana Maharshi is fair warning for the message to come.
PB moves back and forth between critical analysis and mystical reverence throughout this book. Some chapters—“The Hill” and “Solitude and Leisure,” for example—are uplifting reflections on the fruits of the inner life. Other chapters, like those on Politics, Business, and Society, are sharp criticisms of life in the modern world. While these criticisms are indeed harsh, they are nonetheless true. If we are made uncomfortable (or even irritated) by these words, we should consider them all the more seriously, if we ourselves mean to be serious about our mystical pursuits, for PB is writing from that viewpoint here—the viewpoint of the meditator, withdrawn from the world, seeing it as though from atop a sacred mountain, where one must abide betimes, until the fulfillment of that practice sends one down into the world again.
And, like him, if we are to find ourselves, our whole selves, we must at some point climb that austere mountain and unconditionally listen to its complete message. When at last we do so, we shall find that a link has been formed between ourselves and that “inner mountain,” a link from which peace will flow into our lives for the remainder of our days.
A Hermit in the Himalayas 1936
Often overlooked, this is the third of PB’s narrative books, following upon the heels of his two Searches. It is the most lyrical, mystical, and personal of all his published writings. It provides a way-station between the first phase of PB’s writings, which are largely introductory, and his subsequent, more intellectual phase, which culminates in The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga and The Wisdom of the Overself—whose necessary dryness and rigor will require us to have our wits and energy about us. Before we essay that task, we are invited to retreat a while, and plumb the depths of our own hearts with Nature as our guide and companion. For it is here that we find PB’s record of his own journey into his Overself, a journey that is mirrored by his trek into the high Himalayas, his isolation there, and his reflections on the world below.
Scattered amongst the anecdotes of his travels and visitors, are mini-essays in which PB examines the (then current) events of the outer world and extracts their lessons to the philosopher. While the events themselves are long gone, their ilk (war, politics, fame, and infamy) are still well within our kin. For example, one chapter is titled “On Philosophy and Fun—Reflections on Mr. Charles Chaplin—His Silent Art and Genius;” and while Mr. Chaplin is no more, his is an ever recurring role in our popular consciousness. Such is PB’s skill as an author that we find his observations of these events and personalities fresh and useful today.
Alongside these retrospective musings, PB has a few encounters with various visitors to his high camp, bringing with them interesting interludes of spiritual conversation and anecdotes of their own adventures. Even so, this book is rather more about Nature than Humankind. He befriends a fly, studies meditation from an ancient tree, and confronts a hunting panther, all with equal curiosity and poise. His descriptions of the surrounding mountains and their denizens is at once inspired and inspiring—inspiring us to seek our own communion with Nature and perhaps essay a trek into her hidden, sacred places. Like the Chinese Mountain Sage Han Shan, PB focuses on the ordinary things of life, and, as the outer world diminishes in its importance, takes us a little ways within ourselves, even as he withdraws deeper and deeper into himself.
The Quest of the Overself 1937
The Quest of the Overself explicates meditation practices and mental exercises for the Western reader, defines the Overself, and outlines a specific approach to the spiritual quest. At the outset PB explains that he has chosen the term Overself to refer to our soul, our higher self. Unfortunately, these more familiar terms are inevitably colored by religion and our own unexamined belief that we know what to what they are referring. PB tells us that he has conjured this new term because he wants us to start afresh, to really want to ask the question, “What exactly is this deeper 'I' within me?” He provides the reader with methods to answer this question, as well as to achieve serenity of mind and control of thought and to experience the rewards of meditation.
The book is divided into two Parts: “The Analyses” and “The Practices.” In Part One, PB analyzes the physical, emotional, and intellectual self, focusing on the spiritual development that can take place with each. This section is a thorough and accurate expansion of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s “Who Am I?” exercise, and if put into practice, it will provide the seeker with the direct mystical experience of the “answer” to this enquiry.
In Part Two, PB balances the effort of enquiry with that of developing the very phases of our identity from which we aim to become detached. This second phase is the crucial difference between mysticism and philosophy, between those who seek spiritual development for themselves alone and those who are preparing to share the fruit of their labors with the greater (and less fortunate) population of humankind. To this end PB provides instruction for emotional refinement, mental mastery, the path of self-inquiry, and addresses mysteries of the breath, eye, heart, and Overself. The final chapters describe the extraordinary power and presence of the Overself, its practical guidance, and its sacred residence within our hearts. In later years, PB said that one could discover and maintain an awareness of the Overself through reliance on the techniques incorporated in this book alone—although he also said that this was only the true beginning of the quest, a quest which would and should last lifetimes.
Discover Yourself / aka The Inner Reality 1939
Published after PB’s very popular Search books—A Search in Secret India and A Search in Secret Egypt—PB moves from away from narrative form and presents many of his ideas about spirituality somewhat more directly. He begins the book by asserting himself as a student and researcher (and not a teacher), but the text of the book testifies to the knowledge and experience that seem to place him in just such a category.
He covers a wide range of topics and ideas, beginning with “What is God?” where he examines both the spiritual and the scientific response to this question. He emphasizes the need to incorporate all forms of wisdom—past and present, rational and mystical—if we are to evolve a complete philosophy. Planting himself firmly at the fulcrum of these polarities, PB also tackles issues such as asceticism, monasticism, and their opposites—the belief that fame and fortune naturally follow spiritual accomplishment.
PB goes on to look at many ideas of Christianity and Hinduism, offering us his insights into the Sermon on the Mount, the Gospel of John, and the Bhagavad Gita. He addresses the central questions of those who look to such doctrines as the Bible and the Gita for guidance, illuminating and elevating them for an audience of modern people living in our current world. He also explores the question of the ‘historical’ Jesus, in part as an exercise. Throughout his inquiries he seeks to present his ideas for any and every seeker, penetrating to the truth behind the words and images of these very famous and revered texts.
The sixth chapter of this book presents one of the clearest, most helpful descriptions of the importance of pursuing the practice of meditation. PB provides clear instructions and advice on how to begin meditating, styled especially for those with limited time for such pursuits. All in all, this book enriches our understanding of two great spiritual traditions, inviting us to benefit from their wisdom, regardless of our own religious affiliation, and encouraging us to put their words into our practices directly.
Listen to excerpts from Discover Yourself read by Christopher Reeve.
The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga 1941
True to its title, this book presents the long-held secret teachings essential to spiritual growth. In this masterpiece, PB walks the reader through the reasoning behind one of the key tenets of spiritual study and life: the truth that all we ever experience, know, and are, is consciousness, no matter what our belief to the contrary may say. This doctrine of mind as basis of experience is called Mentalism by PB, and this text is a painstaking guide to understanding it—more, to experiencing its truth for oneself. This is not a truth to be believed, nor is it “Paul Brunton’s Truth;” this is the Truth of the world in which we live. It is a truth found in the teachings of Yoga, (as the title suggests), and in the teachings of Buddhism, as well as those of Christianity, Platonism, the Native Americans, and Theosophy.
Like its predecessor, The Quest of the Overself, reading this book can change you; it is meant to do so, and if studied instead of merely read, it will release our minds and imaginations from the materialistic conditioning that blinds us to our true awareness of the world around and within us. Many people find reading this book hard work, for it is a work of mental discipline, not of information or inspiration (although there are chapters that both inform and inspire sprinkled throughout the book). PB asks his readers to change gears here, to graduate from the labors of the world—and of mystical training—and undertake the “Great Work” of the Alchemists: the investigation of Reality, its Appearance, and even an enquiry into the very tools we employ in this investigation. Like all books that deal with this stage of the quest, The Hidden Teaching requires careful and continuous study. One must read and reread these pages until first the reasoning and then the revelation of its truths arise within one’s mind like stars at midnight, for these are indeed the stars by which we may henceforward steer the ship of our soul as we sail towards “the other shore.”
The Wisdom of the Overself 1943
This is a true “Great Work,” well worthy of its title and its place in the pantheon of the perennial philosophy of Truth. The title of this book, often considered the greatest of PB’s early works, is taken from the Sanskrit: Prajña-Paramâtman. The first term refers to the Prajñapâramitâ literature of Buddhism, and the second term refers to the Vedanta (the flowering of Hinduism). Indeed, without saying so, this book is a profound fusion of these two great teachings, commingled with the methodology of science and the insights of deep meditation. For those familiar with either of these great traditions, their presence in PB’s teachings are obvious, even if their specialized vocabularies are absent; conversely, the ideas in this book stand on their own without any need to rest upon the mere fact of ancient authority.
The book can be divided into five sections, the first of which is basically a recap of PB’s previous work, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga. This review is critical to the text, for without an understanding of Mentalism, (PB’s solution to the problems of epistemology), some of the material that follows appears to stand on flimsy mystical ground rather than upon the bedrock of hard empirical reasoning. The second part of the work (Chapters 3-5) draws heavily upon Hindu thought, specifically that found in the Mândûkya Upanishad; here PB encourages us to look past the boundaries of our ordinary world and consider, as principles, the philosophic ramifications of dream and sleep. PB expands these states of consciousness to unveil their cosmic counterparts and thus leads us to the philosopher’s vision of the “creation” of the universe.
In the third section PB returns to the very immediate issues of death, suffering, and evil in the world; these are first examined in the impersonal light of philosophy and second in the healing light of Grace. Here PB gives us his unique understanding of karma, destiny, freewill, and the post-mortem state—an understanding that is as extraordinary as it is practical.
The fourth section (Chapters 11 and 12) revisits the ideas of the second section, but now we are asked to set aside our needs for a cosmological paradigm and embrace an ontological one instead—and a strangely Buddhist ontology at that. In plain language, we are led to consider God as Impersonal Consciousness with no creative intent at all, and as ‘standing’ upon a Metaphysical Void.
From this dizzying and sometimes daunting height, PB closes out The Wisdom of the Overself with a collection of meditation techniques and descriptions of their fruits. These range from healing and nature meditations directly available to us all, to more abstract intermediate practices, and finally to some of the highest techniques available to the human heart and mind. In truth, if these techniques are followed to their realization, one will indeed be filled with the Wisdom of the Overself.
The Spiritual Crisis of Man 1952
PB’s last published book bluntly faces the problem of applying spirituality to our times and vice-versa. While this is neither a new problem nor unique to PB, his no-nonsense approach is a significant contribution to this challenge. At times abrasive, PB makes it crystal-clear that we must engage in spiritual practices if the world is going to change. He further emphasizes that such engagement with practice must go far beyond the desultory queries and intermittent efforts so common amongst all seekers, regardless of their affiliation.
PB applies an equally critical eye toward the newest religion of all—Science—and its reckless pursuit of advancing technology without regard for the moral and environmental consequences of its ambition. These things have come to pass in our world today, and this book’s message is all the more powerful and relevant in its potent, if discomforting, remedies for these ills. Just when we think PB is going to relent, he hits us even harder, with an impersonal look at the Ego, which is the dark foundation upon which these destructive impulses of science, society, and ourselves is built. PB’s writings on the Ego here and in Volume 6 of The Notebooks are among his most original contributions to modern spiritual philosophy, and while they are disquieting to read, the very effort to do so is a small step in the direction of undermining the Ego’s tyranny of our lives, minds, and hearts.
After this psychological dressing-down, PB does an about-face, not unlike that required by the Short Path, and turns his attention toward the Divine, the mystic, and our own already-present resources. It is as important to recognize—to realize—the sacred Presence now brought into focus as it was to acknowledge the works of our own ego. And so this is a book for the serious quester, one who is ready to “take up arms against ones
PB’s Early Works
Compilations, Small Books, and Biography